By 90Min
June 22, 2019

Watching the England Under-21s take on Romania was a serious case of deja vu. 

Individual mistakes? Check. 

A tepid display in midfield with no progression in attacking areas? Check. 

A defence being carved open at will? Check. 

These were all the hallmarks of a classic English capitulation at another major tournament. 

Someone could have just put a VHS in and showed a random display of one England's recent tournament games which ended in defeat and, to be honest, we wouldn't have noticed any difference.

Giuseppe Bellini/GettyImages

Blessed with a supposed 'golden generation', expectations were high for the young Lions to bring home the European Championships. 

But with a former 'golden generation' between 2002 and 2006 failing at multiple major tournaments, why did we expect any difference this time?

The England team at the 2006 World Cup consisted of players like John Terry, Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard to name just a few - yet they were knocked out against the Portuguese on penalties. Another very familiar story.

Against the French, England were much the better team for large portions of the game. 1-0 up and dominant, the game turned on it's head after Hamza Choudhury was sent off for a pretty nasty tackle. 

France would go on to win the game 2-1 after another individual mistake by Manchester United target, Aaron Wan-Bissaka.


The game against Romania was very different. An insipid display in midfield with no penetration, reminiscent of the senior team's displays in the Nations League Finals. 

James Maddison, the man touted to come into the main England team and add a different dimension in midfield, performed with a lack of impetus and quality in a tournament where he should have shone. 

Another English footballer who the media have over-hyped? Maybe, and again, another classic example of why England fail in major tournaments. Bringing players up to a level they are yet to reach, so when failure arrives, it feels a lot more damaging.

The last 20 minutes of the game was reminiscent of a group of school kids who possess no tactical knowledge or awareness. 

It became a basketball game. Midfields were being bypassed and England's defence was ripped to shreds as Romania put four past England. The third goal came courtesy of a shocking error from the otherwise impressive Dean Henderson. Another individual mistake. 

Giuseppe Bellini/GettyImages

Individual mistakes are evidently a majorly common theme for England. 

Look at John Stones and Kyle Walker in the Nations League game against Netherlands. Even during last year's glorious summer and World Cup, 1-0 up against a good Croatia team and what happened? You guessed it. Two individual mistakes. And yes, Walker and Stones... again.

Why does this keep happening? Why do errors keep occurring on the biggest stage? It could be a number of reasons. 

The pressure of playing in an England shirt and expectations put on their shoulders by media and fans may be too much for certain players. Or maybe some of them just aren't good enough. 

Whatever the problem is, it needs to be rectified. England are a team with a lot of quality and some rising stars. Harry Kane, Jadon Sancho and Phil Foden to name a few. They can't afford to waste another opportunity at glory.

Jan Kruger/GettyImages

Management has also been a major problem for England over the years. 

Why was Foden on the bench in such a crucial game and why didn't Abraham get more minutes? Why couldn't ex-England managers find a way to play Lampard and Gerrard together? Why did Gareth Southgate persist with below average players like Fabian Delph and Ross Barkley? 

This is just another factor contributing to the failure of English football at European and World Cups.

It's frustrating, but among all the recent doom and gloom there is reason to be positive. England need to find the right formula to change their luck at major tournaments. For now though, England may need to take a step back and think in order to take a step forward and eventually bring football home.

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